I’ve been paying attention to Ogra Fianna Fail’s national conference in Cork this week, and it’s an interesting insight into the party. Consider the following link, which is to the various policy motions being debated. There are some very interesting ideas being discussed, and I agree with many of them. But here’s the thing: look at Young Fine Gael’s manifesto here. There are differences, but they’re not huge. Put it another way. If someone in Ogra FF proposed one of the YFG policies at the Ogra meeting, would anyone notice?
Or consider Ogra’s website, which tells a lot about what Ogra does, but not about why someone chooses FF over another party.
This is the question that fascinates me. If someone really wanted to get some of these policies turned into law, why would they join Fianna Fail? Surely joining FG is the way to go?
Of course, the reply is that they are in FF for other reasons too, and that’s when I always am fascinated by discussing this with Fianna Failers. Ask them why they are in FF and not FG, and what values did FF have that FG doesn’t? The first answer is usually “Because FF is a republican party”. You then ask “What does that mean?” and that’s when it gets interesting, and brows get furrowed. Fine Gael isn’t as committed to a united Ireland, they’ll say, until you ask them to prove that Fianna Fail does more to achieve a united Ireland. More brow furrowing. Then you get something about Fianna Fail caring more about ordinary people, a phrase that makes non-political people fall around laughing, and the FFers know it too, which is why they say it to each other but not to the voters. So you end up back at base camp. What is it that makes someone join FF and not FG now?
There is actually an answer. In fact, there are two. The first is that for many in FF, they have invested so much in the structure that from an ambition point of view, starting in FG would mean starting at the bottom again, and they don’t want to do that.
And the second answer? That’s the depressing one. Why be a member in a Fianna Fail party? Because there has always been a Fianna Fail party. God love them.
By the way: If there are any Ogra people who feel I’m being unfair, and would like to write a piece outlining what values FF has that no other party offers, get in touch.